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Living Religious Heritage and Challenges to Museum Ethics: Reflections from the Monastic Community of Mount Athos

Author(s): Georgios Alexopoulos

Journal: Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies
ISSN 2049-4572

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: Art. 4;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Mount Athos | Greece | monastic communities | Orthodox heritage | living religious heritage | museum ethics | treasury exhibitions | public display | public accessibility

This paper reflects on the challenges living religious heritage poses to contemporary museum ethics and specifically with regard to public display and accessibility. Drawing on extensive research conducted in the monastic community of Mount Athos, Greece, this study outlines the development of the museum concept through the organisation of treasury displays and exhibitions. It examines the ethics that underlie current approaches in the monastic community towards displaying and providing access to collections. It is emphasised that the perceived threats of touristification and museumification are at the centre of an apparent reluctance towards embracing widely adhered to principles of contemporary museology. Nevertheless, it is argued that the role of museum and heritage professionals is crucial in respecting the different value systems of the monasteries while advocating solutions that render Athonite heritage more open to the public.
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